While many major US companies have publicized their entry into the blockchain space, Minnesota-based retailer Target has been quietly working on a blockchain-powered solution for supply chain management, dubbed ConsenSource.
ConsenSource has been in the pipelines since mid-2018, but now Target is stepping up its involvement in the blockchain space with a pledge to support the Hyperledger Grid project. The Hyperledger Grid project is a Linux Foundation ledger-based solutions for all types of cross-industry supply chain scenarios.
Already in this Hyperledger Grid network is food giant Cargill, one of Target’s suppliers, as well as Intel and blockchain startup Bitwise.io.
Target – the eighth-largest retailer in the U.S – is going so far as to also advertise for a blockchain engineer and systems developer on its careers page.
The successful candidate will be contributing to their recently open-sourced ConsenSource roject as well as to Hyperledger Grid. They will be developing “distributed ledger systems, protocols, smart contracts, CLI’s, and RESTful APIs in an open source environment,” the job posting says.
Building a blockchain grid
Because the supply chain is such a viable use case for enterprise blockchain solutions, it is unsurprising that Hyperledger Grid is attracting businesses of the magnitude of Target.
“I’m proud that Target will support the Hyperledger Grid project, and that we’re committing dedicated engineering resources to build out components in the Grid architecture,” Joel Crabb, Target’s vice president of architecture, wrote on their blog.
Meanwhile, Target’s blockchain project, ConsenSource has been mostly focusing in on certification of suppliers for the company’s paper manufacturing. This is underlined again by Crabb:
“Working directly with the forest managers and certification boards” studying the technology and trying to figure out what data can be shared on a distributed ledger,” Target’s vice president of architecture added.
Seeing the benefits
Walmart has been very much in the headlines when it comes to blockchain use-cases with their own involvement more publicized in regards to IBM’s Food Trust initiative. However, even if Walmart is seen as the pioneers, Target is identifying similar benefits in terms of enterprise blockchain supply chain solutions.
More so, Target is not viewing this as a competitive space, instead choosing to discuss the benefits of open-sourcing this next step in managing their supply chains
“Many companies – including Target – see the most potential for enterprise blockchain initiatives as open source. Open-source projects require all participating parties to define the governance model collectively from the outset, so companies can then focus their time working on blockchain-based solutions that will lead to greater speed, transparency and cost savings,” it is stated in a blog post.
Target, despite its secretive nature relating to its blockchain involvement, has been mulling over ways in which to improve its supply chain. In its last annual report to shareholders, the retailer mentioned that it was investing in supply chain improvements.
In the report to shareholders, there is no direct mention of blockchain or distributed ledger technology. However, the wording seems to direct towards this nascent space.
“Target is in the process of a broad migration of many mainframe-based systems and middleware products to a modern platform, including systems supporting inventory and supply chain-related transactions,” it said in the annual report.